Clinton to urge Musharraf to address U.S. concerns
Kyodo News Service
March 15 (Kyodo) - By: Keiji Urakami U.S. President Bill Clinton will make a
historic visit to Pakistan next week to urge its military government to show a
road map toward cracking down on terrorism, curbing nuclear proliferation and
military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who captured power in a bloodless coup
last October, has made scant progress on these requests laid out by the U.S.
administration in January.
U.S. administration officials say engaging Islamabad is essential to meeting
''lines of communication may be very important in any future crisis,''
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters Tuesday.
critics say Clinton's decision to stop in Pakistan during his nine-day South
Asian tour from Saturday is tantamount to endorsing the coup that toppled a
democratically elected government.
Albright dismissed such interpretation. ''I want to leave no room for doubt. In
no way is this a decision to endorse the military coup.''
of what Washington hopes to gain by the stopover, Islamabad did not conceal its
delight at the U.S. decision.
understands the importance of his coming to our country,'' Pakistani Ambassador
to the United States Maleeha Lodhi said in an interview with Kyodo News on
up to the United States to determine what it wants to signal by that. But more
important than that is the signal it's sending to people in Pakistan,'' she
archrival, India, is said to have lobbied hard against Clinton's brief trip to
Islamabad, which will be the first visit to that country by a U.S. president
since Richard Nixon in 1969.
Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Naresh Chandra denied the allegation last week,
saying, ''There has been some misunderstanding, as if the Indian government and
others went all out to block this visit and so on. I think that's a very, very
wrong image that has been received.''
tour will focus on India, where he will visit five cities over a full five
days. The president will stay in Pakistan for only a few hours on the last leg
of the tour, which will also take him to Bangladesh.
the Cold War era, Washington's foreign policy in South Asia leaned toward
Pakistan, which it supported in fighting against Soviet soldiers in
focus later shifted in favor of India. Most recently, Islamabad angered
Washington over the conflict with India last summer in the Kargil region of
Kashmir and its coup in October.
the past several years, the U.S. has been increasingly concerned about
Pakistan's support of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement, which is said to
be providing refuge to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, the suspected terrorist
believed responsible for bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. The U.S.
has asked the Taliban to surrender bin Laden for trial.
vital U.S. interest in Pakistan is countering terrorism. The terrorist camps
next door in Afghanistan directly threaten American lives. Because of
Pakistan's influence with its neighbor, this matter will be high on the
president's agenda,'' Albright said.
Musharraf plans to go to Afghanistan within the next several months, Ambassador
Lodhi indicated Islamabad's readiness to mediate between the Taliban and the
U.S. if Pakistan is asked to do so during Clinton's visit. ''We will have to
see if that request is made. We will have to respond to that.''
Musharraf has publicly said he would like to find a solution to the bin Laden
dispute,'' the ambassador also said. ''There is so much influence Pakistan can
exercise on Afghanistan.''
U.S. concern about Pakistan's policy on terrorism is its perceived reluctance
to outlaw Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, a group reportedly engaged in terrorist
Pakistan placed under house arrest a member of the group whom India had
released from jail in exchange for ending the hijacking of an Indian Airlines
jet by Pakistan-backed Kashmiri militants. The measure was widely seen as too
U.S. has also been critical of alleged links between Pakistan and Islamic
militants fighting to expel Indian forces from Kashmir.
U.S. Ambassador to India Frank Wisner told reporters Tuesday that over the past
years such militants ''found haven in Pakistan, and they have exported
terrorists across the border into India.''
actions along the line of control do have an active element of Pakistan involvement
-- the arms, munitions, the artillery screens that are laid before infiltration
takes place,'' Wisner said.
the territorial dispute with India over Kashmir, Lodhi characterized the
situation as having ''a high degree of nuclear risk,'' and sought anew
not able to resolve this ourselves. We need international help,'' the
ambassador said, calling for Washington to step into the dispute, a proposal
flatly rejected by India.
U.S. has maintained it will not budge unless approached by both parties.
Inderfurth, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, said, ''The
president has stated clearly he wants to help promote that dialogue. But we do
not see ourselves as mediators on this issue.''
India and Pakistan have zero interaction at the government level and at any
level. This is unheard of in the recent histories of countries with antagonisms
like that,'' said Shirin Tahir-Kheli of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced